Obesity

Halo Health

Fit, happy gamers

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Teenaged video gamers are socially inept, fat, pimpled loners who rarely leave their parents' basements, right? Not according to a September study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project.

The survey of 1,100 teens, ages 12 to 17, found that 99 percent of boys and 94 percent of girls play computer, web, portable, or console games. The five most popular games among American teens are Guitar Hero, Halo 3, Madden NFL, solitaire, and Dance Dance Revolution. Eighty percent of teens play five or more different game genres. That includes the usual first-person shooters, fighting, and sports games that anti-gamers tend to emphasize, but the same teens are also playing puzzle, rhythm, and strategy games, not to mention intricate multiplayer online games.

Meanwhile, despite those worries about social isolation, 65 percent of game-playing teens play with other people who are in the room with them. The report also notes that video gaming can open up new game-based social networks.

Nor do gamers resemble Jabba the Hutt, say researchers from the University of Southern California, the Palo Alto Research Center, and the University of Delaware in Newark. In a survey of 7,000 players of Everquest II, also published in September, the researchers found that multiplayer online gamers are more physically fit than average Americans. For example, adult gamers' body mass index averages 25.2, compared to an overall American average of 28.

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  1. I’m going to get this in first before a discussion erupts about it.

    BMI is a terrible indication of a person’s physical fitness. There are many Reason Hit and Run readers who lift a lot of weights and have bulging muscles, but this makes their BMIs higher than what the BMI scale would consider optimal, and thus classifies them as obese. This is indeed absurd, and yes, body fat percentage is a better indicator of a person’s physical fitness.

  2. lol not the 1337 ones though…

  3. Ron, I think what you really should have discussed was whether 3D Realms will actually release Duke Nukem IfEver Forever next year. Anyone think it’ll actually happen?

    Fuck, I am bored beyond the capacity for rational thought. Working on Christmas Eve is teh suxxor.

  4. If you’re 1)not a professional athlete, and 2)not on roids, BMI is a great indicator. That is 95% of us.

  5. Am I the only one who feels like this article ended really abruptly?

  6. Great job, moose. I may be bored but a BMI discussion is too boring even for my current state.

    Dennis: I don’t wanna get too bulky.

    Dee: Right.

    Dennis: I wanna stay nice and lean and tight. I wanna get that Jesus on the cross look. You know what I mean?

    Dee: I see what you’re saying. I think that crucifixion must have been really good for your core because…

    Dennis: Oh, absolutely. Jesus had, like, the best abs. He had the right idea. Hey, he knew: no pain, no gain.

  7. Reinmoose,

    Yeah, BMI is a rough estimate for fitness, but it’s good enough for the aim of the study. A scientist tends to be skeptical and errs on the side of disbelief. The burden is on the stereotypers to prove that gamers are fat. Gamers having a lower BMI is enough for me to reject the hypothesis that gamers are fat. It might not convince me that gamers are fit, but it does disprove the claim that gaming generally causes obesity.

  8. Teenaged video gamers are socially inept, fat, pimpled loners who rarely leave their parents’ basements, right?

    I really don’t know, nor do I care. But I do know they are annoying as all fucking hell and got me to stop playing Halo 3 after about 2 weeks. As I said in the secular/non-secular Christmas thread, CoD4. The game is just better and the players are more mature (or at least they don’t use the words noob, nigger, and fuck ad nauseum). Get your SAW on, bitches.

    PS Giant HDTV plus home theater audio ftw.

  9. BRB,

    Don’t forget “3) not 6’6” in your list of exceptions. The BMI thinks I should look like Jack Skellington.

    (Sorry, Moose and Epi.)

  10. BDB: Even if BMI is a decent indicator of fitness for an individual, average BMI is a terrible way to compare large groups. The stereotype of gamers is that they’re a mix of extremely scrawny guys and extremely fat guys. Even if the average BMI for the group is normal, that doesn’t really contradict the stereotype.

  11. Look – I’m not getting in to this. I think the study is fine, and that most of the people I know who play video games of one sort or another are of average size and physical fitness. It ignores all the other non-gaming non-exercise junk you can be doing, like watching TV, or recreational eating, or reading books.

  12. or reading and commenting on blogs

  13. Jake Boone–

    Like I said, it’s good for 95% of people. I don’t know even one person who is 6’6 IRL.

  14. FXKLM–

    Fair enough, that’s a good point.

    Most gamers are casual or moderate players. The really hardcore ones (the kind that flunked out of college because they played too much WoW) are probably incredibly unhealthy. But they’re a small group.

  15. Good point, BDB.

    Perhaps, like with most things, the assumptions of society go the opposite direction from reality. Maybe gaming doesn’t cause kids to become addicted and therefore obese – maybe a certain personality type is lured to the hardcore gaming, one that is already lacking confidence in real life social interactions and has no interest in sports or any other kind of reality.

  16. “Perhaps, like with most things, the assumptions of society go the opposite direction from reality. Maybe gaming doesn’t cause kids to become addicted and therefore obese – maybe a certain personality type is lured to the hardcore gaming, one that is already lacking confidence in real life social interactions and has no interest in sports or any other kind of reality.”

    Bingo. If this were the pre-digital age, they’d all be addicted to board games or LARPing or whatnot.

    It’s silly to think that for normal people with social lives that it’s a zero sum game, especially for children. I played the Sega quite a bit as a child, AND did sports and got outside. There is time for both.

  17. BDB,

    Granted! But if I don’t speak for the freakishly tall, who will?

  18. maybe a certain personality type is lured to the hardcore gaming, one that is already lacking confidence in real life social interactions and has no interest in sports or any other kind of reality

    But you’re ok now, right, moose? And how is your BMI?

    “Yeah, and then when I walk out, I’m gonna put a bunch of metal onto a metal bar and lift that metal over and over like a metal jerk.”

  19. Well, remember, it costs money to get an XBox. It costs money to get broadband. It costs money to sign up to play WoW.

    The gamer community doesn’t include the very poor. That probably improves their obesity statistics a huge amount right there.

    Gamers are also probably much, much younger than the average American. Despite the newspaper articles about old people playing with the Wii, most old people don’t play console games. I would bet that most OBESE old people never get anywhere near a console game.

    Maybe we don’t need to measure gamers against the average for the entire population – we have to measure them against non-gamers of the same age and socioeconomic group.

  20. IOW, Much ado about nothing.

    Today’s youth is going to Hell in a handbasket. This lament is at least 2300 years old.

    “Youth” never seems to get there.

  21. Bingo. If this were the pre-digital age, they’d all be addicted to board games or LARPing or whatnot.

    But board games are a social activity. LARPing is a HUGELY social activity.

    The D&D kids were probably the most social people around. They just weren’t cool. There’s a difference between being a loser and being asocial. Asocial people have no social interaction at all. Losers may have lots of social interactions – they’re just interacting with people with low status, and being sneered at and laughed at by the high status kids.

  22. My BMI is still safely in the normal zone even if I did just add on 10lbs of pure lard in the last 5 months.

    Yeah, I used to be a fatty – socially awkward, all that good stuff. Then something happened and BAM I was awesome. My parents never bought me video games as a kid and the only console I ever owned until I got my Wii was a Super Nintendo, which I bought the second year it was out, with my own money. So no, it was not that I stopped playing video games and became awesome – that’s not how it works.

    “Dee: Yeah, I’m gonna ride a bike hard, I’m gonna ride a bike fast, and, oh, yeah, I’m not gonna go anywhere”

  23. You would have been cool if you had a Genesis instead, Reinmoose.

  24. You would have been cool if you had a Genesis instead, Reinmoose.

    Whoa, I hope you aren’t talking about Genesis after Peter Gabriel left.

    Then something happened and BAM I was awesome.

    You have no idea what that catalyst was?

    “Well, maybe you shouldn’t dress like a bumblebee, bitch.”

  25. Whoa, I hope you aren’t talking about Genesis after Peter Gabriel left.

    You’re talking to the wrong generation. Genesis = video game console first, then a book of the Bible, THEN the band.

  26. I had a friend who had a Genesis. That predated the SNES, but we would just go to whoever’s house we wanted to play whatever console.
    And also – NBA Jam – seriously, on the Genesis? Not as great.

  27. I am aware of that, BDB. The joke was my deliberate misunderstanding. We had Sega Genesis in college.

    And seriously, Genesis went to hell after Peter Gabriel left.

    “I’ve got a Steve Winwood CD in my car. I’ll go get it.”

  28. There were fewer colors on the screen, but the Genesis controllers were better suited for controlling it. Using the SNES shoulder buttons was akward in that game.

  29. ahem…

    “HE’S ON FIRE!!!”

  30. I think the study gets the causality wrong. Pimply, fat, lonely teenagers don’t have much else to do but play video games. But it wasn’t the games that made them fat.

  31. I would play Space Harrier II on the Genesis while tripping. That was an experience. “I understand the patterns! Whoa!”

  32. You’re talking to the wrong generation. Genesis = video game console first, then a book of the Bible, THEN the band.

    Considering the topic, I’d say you left an important one out.

  33. Also, who’s the woman next to Slash and Gene Simmons in the picture?

  34. Yeah, episarch, and those jews in the concentration camp, they really had great bmi’s. No obesity about them. Arbeit really does macht frei, I guess. Heh heh heh. Jews die. Jesus dies. Funny, funny stuff.

  35. Well the initial for Duke Nukem Forever is DNF. Somehow appropriate methinks.

    As far as avoiding the snot-nosed oiks…I play Warhammer Online in a “mature” guild and find it a pleasant experience. Games like WO and AoC (though it was rubbish) are for older audiences which makes things far more fun. Immature nitwits and chinese gold farmers were what stopped me from playing WoW.

  36. Considering the topic, I’d say you left an important one out.

    There can’t be so much as a microbe, or the show’s off.

    Yeah, episarch, and those jews in the concentration camp, they really had great bmi’s

    Wow, that humorectomy was total, wasn’t it. Take it up with the writers of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, douchebag.

  37. BP – the non-Slash characters are fictional – the dude is Lars Umlaut (I don’t know how to type a character with umlauts), and I forget the chick’s name, I think it’s Pandora.

    Yes, I play video games.

  38. Ska – thx. I guess they just ripped off Simmons (and Lars Ulrich), but decided to get creative with the woman. I’ve (obviously) never played GH, or RockBand, or whichever.

    Oh, and if you have MS Word, you can open it, go to Insert > Symbol – then copy the symbol into comments. Viz: ?, ?, ?, ?, ?, etc. Beats learning all the HTML ASCII codes.

  39. I think Lars is supposed to be a Scandinavian/Swedish/Norwegian metal guy.

    Seconded on the SAW. I liked using it with Deep Impact so it would just chew through walls. Nothing better than getting a headshot on someone through a wall.

  40. “Also, who’s the woman next to Slash and Gene Simmons in the picture?”

    “BP – the non-Slash characters are fictional – the dude is Lars Umlaut (I don’t know how to type a character with umlauts), and I forget the chick’s name, I think it’s Pandora.”

    I am not a fat gamer. I am a fat metal nerditarian. If that isn’t Immortal’s Abbath to Slash’s right then Abbath needs to friggin’ sue for copyright infringement. (As Libertarians are we for or against copyright nowadays? I can’t quite tell.)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abbath

  41. As Libertarians are we for or against copyright nowadays?

    Yes.

  42. Maybe they’re less “obese” because they’re generally younger? Hey, I like games and all (more of a Dwarf Fortress type, though), but we don’t have to resort to defending them by manipulating statistics to produce bullshit conclusions. Then we’d be no better that the nanny-staters who want to ban them.

  43. Everyone missed the obvious flaw in the study.

    They claim to have found 7000 Everquest II players. Since no one plays everquest anymore, these must be fabricated numbers!

    😉

  44. People who play Atlus games look like Jabba the Hutt.

    The typical term for these people is, “Fatlus”.

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